What I loved about this book was that although it is about the sexual escapades and search for love by a 24 year old girl, which would normally lend itself to the chick lit territory, this book is actually about trauma and recovery too.
Phoebe is a bright, beautiful girl, whose dreams to become an actress have come crashing down around her ears, and who has returned home to live with her father while she figures out her next steps. She starts to fall for the handsome, but very married, friend of her father, but knowing that that would be a bad idea, she tries to distract herself and find love with other guys. These little adventures are really quite witty, and after a four year man-drought, come as quite a surprise to Phoebe.
But if it was just about a girl finding her sexual self, it would be just another novel. It’s not.
Phoebe lost her mother in a tragic car accident, which has drawn her and her father closer, but was also a huge shock. Whilst this is the outward reason that Phoebe has withdrawn from her old friends, and not made huge career leaps, the real reason is that she was raped by a stranger at a party in her own home. The book is really insightful into the ways that she has closed off physically, the way she punishes herself emotionally, and feels like she’s crazy sometimes and verlost. It talks about her fears and things that remind her of the events in ways that are just like those recovering this kind of trauma.
This book is not about the rape, though, it’s about a broken young woman who refuses to see herself as a victim, and who has to learn to open up, to trust herself again and to release the pain of the past. On the one hand, there are some dark core feelings and low self esteem, but actually, the book is frequently very funny and sexy. Things and people are never exactly what you’d expect, much like in life, and Phoebe goes from the high of being wanted, to the lows of feeling rejected, and back again, and you’ll never guess the ending…
E H Nolan has a lovely way with words, capturing the thoughts and feelings of her protagonist beautifully, and drawing you into her world, whilst introducing various characters who are never stock people, and talking about ordinary things that women experience in ways that are funny and knowing. I found this book really emotional reading, and enjoyed it very much. It also really made me think. Not many books do that anymore.